Financial Statements: The Importance of Being Earnest

Before many hearings at the Probate and Family Court, parties must complete financial statements on pink paper.  There is a form for parties who earn $75,000 or less, and a different form for those who earn more.

The financial statement is crucial to beginning negotiations.  The court needs to know what to divide and what is available for child support.  The opposing party needs to check that your assertions on the financial statement reconcile with their discovery.

Some clients are hesitant to provide their data on the financial statement but there are a number of reasons why it’s important.  First, this document is often the court’s first assessment of your credibility.  If you are caught in a lie on the financial statement, the court will be unlikely to believe you on other issues.  Second, it is easy for the opposing party to use a fraudulent financial statement to impeach you.  They can take a limited deposition on your financials and then quickly corner you based on your conflicting financial statement and deposition.  Third, it saves you time and money to be forthcoming.  If you fail to provide correct financial information upfront, you will spend considerable money fighting over discovery.  Finally, your attorney must sign the financial statement in addition to you.  It is against attorneys’ ethical code, and a risk to their career and reputation, to help a client conceal assets.